Special gravel coverage

The Pedouins are coming!

Posted by on April 29th, 2010 at 8:26 am

The Harrison Family: Bill, Amarins, Cheyenne, Jasmine & Robin. What’s not to love?!
(Photo courtesy of Harrison family)

The Pedouins, a family of five that’s well into a 7,000 mile ride from Kentucky to Alaska, is set to arrive in Portland sometime in the next week or so. I’ve gotten several emails from readers who have been following their amazing journey and the buzz about their arrival is building.

“We set out to prove that it is possible for a blue collar worker and a stay-at-home mom to live their dream. A dream to show our girls this great country we live in.”

The Pedouins (named after the nomadic Bedouin tribe of course) are Bill and Amarins Harrison and their kids (ages ranging from two to six!) Cheyenne, Jasmine and Robin. On August 1, 2009, the family left their home state of Kentucky with $300 in their pockets. “We set out to prove that it is possible for a blue collar worker and a stay-at-home mom to live their dream. A dream to show our girls this great country we live in.”

Along the way, the family uses the open road as a classroom for the kids and relies on grassroots support and the kindness of strangers.

This family is hard not to love. Spend a few minutes at Pedouins.org and I think you’ll agree.

I’m hoping to hear from them to confirm, but word on the street is that they’ll be in Portland sometime next week. Stay tuned for announcements of house parties, BBQ’s and other fun ways to meet the Harrisons before they head north to Alaska.

For more about them, see this video clip from WBIR-TV in Tennessee:

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  • Nick V April 29, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Kids aged two to six? Those parents should get a Nobel Peace Prize.

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  • Vance Longwell April 29, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I admire their effort here. But for Pete’s sake a contraption like that has no business on a public highway. Seriously, if they can manage that thing unmolested those of you in the ‘fear traffic’and ‘safety first’ camp just lost more credibility.

    I really don’t wish to detract from their effort. This is also arguably not the time to debate such, but the sheer scope of the thoughtlessness inherent in riding something like that around deserves scrutiny. Seriously, that thing’d take a city block to turn around! Maybe they have a Class A, or B, license I’m unaware of?

    Sorry to be neg on your fluff piece, but geewhiz that thing’s just not right.

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  • Elliott @ Austin on Two Wheels April 29, 2010 at 8:59 am

    They’re pretty amazing. I saw them on the road in West Texas when I was returning from Thanksgiving break: http://austinontwowheels.org/2009/11/30/family-of-5-rides-7000-from-kentucky-to-alaska-on-tandem/

    That tandem they have is pretty amazing.

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  • JAT in Seattle April 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Vance at 2 – I can’t understand why you think that really long and unmaeuverable bike shouldn’t be on the road. I’m sure it can handle any turn that a car can.

    I don’t mind your being neg, but given your usual position that bikes are part of traffic and do belong on the roads, your opinion here is so strongly stated and I just can’t figure out what your objection is.

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  • Vance Longwell April 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

    “Vance at 2 – I can’t understand why you think that really long and unmaeuverable bike shouldn’t be on the road.”

    Hehe. If that’d been an inch closer to a question I could have busted out ‘tautology’! 🙂 One of my faves! Yeah, turns out ‘unmaneuverable’ isn’t a desirable property for a bike to have. In my opinion of course. I personally find several occasions, each time I ride, that require high-levels of maneuverability from my bike.

    Look, the Church of Green is busily mandating that we all have to use these ridiculous bike-lanes. If not for the bike-lanes I wouldn’t have one whit of a problem with this bicycle configuration. But given that I must now, by law, share a teensy, tinsey, little bike-lane with ya’ll, then I have to consider the configuration of the bicycle YOU are on. When I see something like this I immediately imagine what it would be like trying to pass them, or what adding any number of minutes to my commute whilst waiting behind them, would be like.

    If we are going to have bike-specific-infrastructure then there must be limitations on this kind of thing. I simply can’t see how reducing the efficacy of using a bicycle in the first place is any way to ‘grow the mode’. It is the presence of this kind of thing which has me desperately seeking an auto for the first time in over two decades. Every ride I’ve made for all those years now takes twice the time, at least, due to slow-pokes on 50lb tanks, and giant-sized two-wheelers like this.

    Just not what I signed up for. Keep in mind the only reason I use personal transpo at all, instead of mass, is due to the degree to which I loathe mass-transit. If you would question why, please refer to the incident above, yo! I simply won’t support an agency that treats it’s employees the way Tri-Met does. Let alone MRSA, let alone TB, let alone Lice, and everything else I’ve caught on a bus.

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  • Winnie Ruth April 29, 2010 at 10:01 am

    omg they are adorable!!!! Give them some money quick. What an amazing journey.

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  • Triplet Rider April 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Vance – I regularly ride my triplet tandem with two kids. It’s shorter tha Harrisons’ quint, but I assure you I can easily navigate the sharp corners on the ramp leading up to the Rose Garden from the Steele Bridge or make a U-turn on a residential street. And, I know exactly where my kids are when riding 2.5 and 5 feet behind me!

    I share your concern about licensing. What scares me on the road are those who’ve rented or bought a 35 or 40-foot RV and are driving around with no special license or training. BTW, I previously had a CDL and drove an over-the-road tour bus.

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  • beth h April 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

    That bike is outrageous, in a very cool way. I wanna see it up close.

    (I can be such a bike geek…)

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  • Joe April 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

    my hero’s!

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie April 29, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Vance – when you don’t know what you are talking about I implore you to step away from the keyboard – I say this based on the FACT that we have traveled in this fashion, very safely with not one serious incident or any accidents – with my family on three continents. For reference material – b/c I know you love to scour the web – check out my cover story in Bicycling magazine Dec issue and books, Momentum Is Your Friend and Mud, Sweat and Gears.

    Everyone – The Pedouins will be staying at our house during part of their stay in Portland a a party in their honor is being planned.

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  • El Biciclero April 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Heh. Saw these guys NB on 101 over the weekend (as we drove by in our car). I thought it was a rare sighting of a quad tandem, but now find out it is a quint. All the way from KY. Wow.

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  • Bryn Dearborn April 29, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Thanks Joe for doing that. What a great story.

    @vance – Are you serious? You are concerned that this bike would slow you down. Your response is more humorous than anything as I did not realize people had such wild notions.

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  • JAT in Seattle April 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Vance – thanks for the clarification, and I totally get your point about sharing the teensy, tinsey, little bike-lane with the proliferation of, well, slow-pokes…

    I’m surprized that the OR requirement to use a bicycle facility where one is provided is still on the books; we don’t require a car to use a freeway where one is provided (maybe we should).

    As for the Pedouins, most of their travel is out on the open highway, I doubt they’ll be in your way for long.

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  • Marcus Griffith April 29, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Pedouins at the Metal Cowboy’s house? That makes perfect sense. How many people have personal experience parenting on a cross country bike trip? I can only imagine the challenges.

    Can we could start an annual contemporary-nomad convention?

    PS: Vance: ” I simply won’t support an agency that treats it’s employees the way Tri-Met does. ”

    Really, than I take it you don’t eat anything because that would support the food industry; that you don’t buy bike tires or parts because that would support Chinese sweat shops?

    Vance, I give full credibility to your admission that you have lice (comment 5). But, please do keep your health issues private.

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  • dan April 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    This family is awesome! I would love to know where they got their bike/who built it.

    Vance, normally I think there’s a kernel of truth in your consistent nay-saying, but in this case I think I smell the scent of nay-saying for its own sweet sake.

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie April 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Marcus – love the idea of a contemporary nomad convention – but we could never get the nomads in one place at the same time 😉 So we’ll have to settle for mini nomad parties when they come thru Portland. Once Camp Creative/Ethos is based out of the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center we could host visiting nomads – have them do presentations at the theatre and throw parties, celebrations and fundraisers there. And for the record, We had three on board under 10 on the canada trip – Beth nursed our one year old across Canada in Mud, Sweat and Gears… and I pulled a five and seven year old by myself across America so we have a unique bond with the Pedouins/Harrision clan! Looking forward to comparing notes and laughing deep into the evening.

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  • Kt April 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    If their quint is longer than 14 feet, then it’s right up there with my 91 Nissan Sentra SE-R– which is 14 feet long. I seem to have no problems driving it around, making turns, etc, and it’s less flexible than that quint would be (my front wheels only turn so far, not near as far as you can turn the front wheel on a bicycle.)

    Just some perspective– the Sentra is a two-door, and most 4-doors are going to be as long or longer.

    Anyway, on topic: how cool! I wish I could do something like that…

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  • Cruizer April 29, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Metal Cowboy,
    I love this family! Where are you going to announce the party?

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie April 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I’m chatting with Angel Koch and will chat with Maus and The Pedouins themselves coordinating timing of their arrival and who their staying with first/ when – once we have all that we’ll send some thing out to shift and Maus won’t mind announcing something perhaps?!? At any rate, potluckish and lots of fun. We’ll give time and locale.

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  • joe metal cowboy kurmaskie April 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    oops – rephrase – will talk with j maus and have already been emailing back and forth with Bill Harrison/pedouins and company. Announcements to follow.

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  • Seppo April 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Hey Portland! You can get regular updates on the Pedouins via Bill Harrison’s Facebook page. Link is below. Would be great to see a welcoming party for Portland.


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  • Marcus Griffith April 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Metal Cowboy: Beth nursed an one-year old during your well documented voyage? The caloric demands on her had to be unbelievable. Perhaps the Cowboy clan and the Pedouins could get together sometime and produce the first ever parenting-for-nomads book.

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  • Vance Longwell April 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    #10 – If that thing is so safe, if that giant-sized bicycle can be safely operated on three continents, – ooh classism, yer awesome – then your constant whining about cycling in Portland being unsafe is what? Thanks for clarification on that, I’ll be sure to remember that next time I hear any crap about how dangerous it is out there.

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  • Devian Gilbert April 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    the Harrison Family is a great bunch. Quality people. We hosted them here in Monterey for a few days, gathered some funds, and helped out with maintenance and logistics. I hope they love Portland. I know that I really enjoyed my stay last august!

    When the Pedouins come a pedaling.

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  • Terry Ryan April 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I will 2nd that emotion of Devian’s — the Harrison’s are an absolutely amazing family–the best part is Robin sleeping on the bike – ya know, the rocking motion and the transport seat – & I loved the bike–gotta google the company that makes her seat — German engineering & mfg. Amarins has blogged a ton of experiences (photo and narrative) at http://www.pedouins.org — a great place to visit and read; this family has had a host of experiences — God Bless them and please tell them EVERYONE in Monterey says “HI!”

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  • Angela Koch April 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Our family is super excited to host the Pedouins while they’re here in Portland! We figure two families each with three girls should make for a fun adventure in and of itself! I’m working with friends, including Joe K, and family to put something fun together for them. As soon as we have solid dates we’ll let folks know!

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  • Devian Gilbert April 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I’m so glad that the Harrisons are garnering support! Say hello to bill and family for me.

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  • GlowBoy May 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    The pedouins are an inspiration!

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  • 9watts May 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

    If I read that tracking link right it looks like they’re approaching Portland this morning. Any of their Portland hosts know more?

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  • Angela Koch May 5, 2010 at 11:13 am


    They’re just outside Oregon City right now and heading in to Portland. They plan to stop at my kids’ school, Buckman, to say hello and talk to the kids about their adventure, and then they’re heading to my house to stay two nights. We’re holding a potluck dinner (bring cash to donate to keep them rolling!) at my house tonight from 5:30 – 8pm. The Metal Cowboy will be there, it’s totally kid friendly, unsecure bike parking in my backyard.

    2231 SE Ash Street
    tonight, Wednesday May 5
    5:30 – 8pm potluck for the Pedouins


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  • Lindsay May 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    They’re here! I just bumped into them on 16th by Buckman. They rock. When’s the party?

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  • John Maher May 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I did this Pedouin video for everyone when they came through Petaluma a couple weeks ago.
    See it here:

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  • jim May 7, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Sounds like an adventure. Maybe I should try their approach on my next adventure, leave with a few dollars in my pockete and mooch off people to help fund my trip.

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